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Can You Avoid Being Labeled Difficult?

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

Written By: Lauren Howard

I’m sure there is a world where you can, yes. It would also probably require a lot of tiptoeing around insecure people to make sure that they never misunderstand your motives. In my experience, the only way to never be misunderstood is to never talk, and you have way too much valuable stuff going on in that head of yours to not permit the universe access to any of it.

I think the conversation should be less about NOT being labeled difficult and more about why this happens so much anyway. Why is it that being a capable woman in the workplace is inherently such a threat? Why do we have to temper everything about ourselves to make others comfortable with our existence?

Someone commented on one of my posts recently that she went to a program helmed by an incredible female executive who was full of insights on how to make it in a man’s world. While the conversation was, by and large, really good, there was a section that just didn’t sit right with her. This incredibly talented and experienced executive encouraged women to smile more and soften their voices to get a seat at the table. She said that it wasn’t fair that it was necessary, but it was the reality of today’s workplace.

Wait, what?

So we just accept the status quo to make it easier for us rather than fixing it for generations that come behind us?

If you are the only person in your sight, then yes, play the game. But if it’s about more than that to you, I would not share wisdom about how to fit into a man’s world. I would work really, really hard to make it everyone’s world and expect that the dinosaurs around me will either fight back (and lose), evolve (possibly), or die off.

Can you avoid being labeled? I’m sure there’s a way but I’ve never found it. I would focus less on dodging criticisms, rightful or otherwise, and focus more on the source of those and if that even has anything to do with you.

Odds are, it doesn’t - and our daughters, nieces, mentees, and whomever else is climbing behind us deserve better experiences that we get to build.

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Photos by Ospan Ali and NEED OTHER PHOTO on Unsplash


Founder & CEO at elletwo


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